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Arthritis Society responds to the Ontario budget

Statement from Trish Barbato, President and CEO  

 It’s clear from today’s budget announcement the Government of Ontario is listening to our calls to address the growing surgical backlog. The $300-million investment announced today will help hospitals keep operating rooms open later so patients who’ve been waiting too long already can finally get their much-needed surgeries, including hip and knee replacements.  

On behalf of arthritis patients, we’ve been raising the issue of wait times for some time and recently convened a pan-Canadian working group to put patients waiting in pain first. Today’s budget announcement shows our efforts are starting to bear fruit.  

Arthritis is the leading cause of hip and knee replacement surgery. We routinely hear from people about their diminished quality of life while they wait too long for these life-changing surgeries and this past year, the number of those stories has increased. We recently heard from one man in Windsor whose November knee replacement was canceled and he still hasn’t had his surgery.  

 Joint pain can be excruciating. It can limit or prohibit the ability to walk and move. 

 The investments announced today will also create a centralized provincial surgical waitlist to help reduce scheduling delays – something we hope will level the playing so that patients in some areas of the province will no longer have to wait twice as long as patients in other areas.  

Supporting investments in innovative research is a key pillar of our advocacy efforts, and we’re also pleased to hear plans to invest more than $500 million into high-value research through universities, colleges and academic hospitals. Investing in research and innovation will help improve the lives of all Ontarians, including those living with arthritis.  

We all know our healthcare system has been challenged this past year like never before. We support the call for an increase in the federal health transfer as provinces and territories work to catch up on delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.   

We encourage the Ontario government to work with all stakeholders, including the Arthritis Society, as they move forward on their investments to reduce surgical wait times in Ontario and deliver quality healthcare. 

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